Winslow Homer, Summer Squall, 1904
"Winslow Homer, Sterling Clark, and His Institute"
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Marking the opening of Winslow Homer: Making Art, Making History, exhibition curator Marc Simpson lectures on Sterling Clark's extensive Winslow Homer collection, surveying the works and examining the career of the renowned painter, watercolorist, and printmaker.
Robert Sterling Clark admired Winslow Homer (1836-1910) more than any other American artist. In 1942, he asserted with confidence: “I put Winslow Homer as the greatest artist of ours.” Acting on this belief for forty years, from 1915 through 1955, he purchased Homer’s oil paintings, watercolors, and other works in such numbers that, in the end, he owned more works by Homer than by any other artist.
More important than the size of his collection, however, was its quality. In its breadth and ambition, Clark’s collection became the finest gathering of Homer’s works put together by any person after the artist’s death. The extraordinary nature of the collection became clear to the outside world only when Clark opened his museum in Williamstown in May 1955. In the intervening half-century-plus, the museum has built on this strength, augmenting the original Homer collection through both purchase and gift, and has placed the Homer collection at the core of its exhibition practice and educational mission.